Perchlorate and chlorate anions [(per)chlorate] exist in the environment from natural and anthropogenic sources, where they can serve as electron acceptors for bacteria. We performed growth experiments combined with genomic and proteomic analyses of the hyperthermophile Archaeoglobus fulgidus that show (per)chlorate reduction also extends into the archaeal domain of life. The (per)chlorate reduction pathway in A. fulgidus relies on molybdo-enzymes that have similarity with bacterial enzymes; however, chlorite is not enzymatically split into chloride and oxygen. Evidence suggests that it is eliminated by an interplay of abiotic and biotic redox reactions involving sulfur compounds. Biological (per)chlorate reduction by ancient archaea at high temperature may have prevented accumulation of perchlorate in early terrestrial environments and consequently given rise to oxidizing conditions on Earth before the rise of oxygenic photosynthesis.